When Paths Cross With a Self Proclaimed Ex-Convict

That time in Indonesia when my path crossed with a self-prclaimed ex-convict….

Our First Escape Room
Our First Escape Room. No we were not in prison Moms!

The hotel was purple, with two stories and full of balconies overlooking rolling green. Picturesque. The staff were sweet locals, whom shared not only travel tips but also personal stories with us. Hot as hell, we decided to come back to our hotel after a morning of walking around the local area.

The owners son, we’ll call Ja, offered to take us to a nice view point one afternoon and we were happy to accept. He explained that a new hotel was being built by a foreigner, and soon the road to the view point would be private; so he was happy to bring guests to the view point while still able.

On route to the view point, our new friend began sharing that he used to be a tour guide going from Bali to Komodo National Park weekly. As we drove by the new hotels’ construction site, our friend waved to another truck passing by and then said, “he’s also an ex-convict”. Not positive if I heard correctly, I hesitated to ask, “Sorry, did you say ex-convict?. To my surprise, we had heard Ja correctly and he proceeded to share more details without any reservation.

Turns out Ja liked to gamble, and while working as a guide, had got addicted to internet gambling that led to a loss of most of his personal items. As such, he orchestrated a scam to essentially trick people into thinking they were paying for a trip with the company that he worked with as a guide. However, the money was being sent to him.

Ja eventually got caught and was, “on the run and living on the streets for about 2 years”. When Ja was caught he said that his dad could have helped him stay out of prison for a cost, but his dad refused and told Ja that he needed to repay his debts. (Side note: I just finished reading Dan Browns’ Lost Symbol, and thankfully this story does not end the same.) Continuing on, Ja said that prison was not as bad as he would have thought and he was glad to have this experience and chance to turn his life around. Upon getting out of jail only a few months prior to this conversation, Ja’s dad offered him to work at their small hotel (which I will leave nameless), in order to pay back his debts. Ja told us that even though he served prison time, he feels morally responsible to pay back his debts to the company. From what he told us, the company honoured the people that were scammed so all the money Ja owes is actually to his previous employer.

More stories to come as I cross paths with strangers.

Wander with Love!


Travel Malaysia Today Part 1: Peninsular Malaysia

Perhaps having little idea of what to expect is the way to go. Less concerned with having a clear plan, or each day pre-determined (based off of TripAdvisor or Travel Blog suggestions) was not really an option for many parts of Malaysia. As such, each day was honestly lived through curiosity and exploration; and Malaysia has been an amazing companion to a wanderlust couple.

Although less travelled than some of the neighbouring SouthEast Asian countries, Malaysia is very welcoming to visitors (from the easy on arrival visa process to the culture, transportation options and people). A remarkable country that can accommodate many types of travellers; whether you are looking for beaches and luxury, a cultural trip and/or adventures through the jungle. My experiences tell me that you will find what you are looking for! You will be met with pleasant surprises, as well as smiling faces from locals. You will not be the only curious person on the street;  you will be met with many people asking to take pictures with you (especially for white people), cheerful new friends introducing themselves and shaking your hand, and many people willing to help guide you around. Many locals I have met have this wonderful, almost child-like curiosity and humour that is so enjoyable and humbling, and I feel like these are traits that many westerners do not embody.  Even in very remote places many people speak English, so be sure to let conversation and meeting locals be part of your travels.

Geographically, Malaysia is divided into the mainland or (Peninsular Malaysia between Thailand and Singapore), and Borneo Malaysia (island of Borneo). Often, you will find yourself on a beautiful beach completely alone or among a few locals. However, with all that Malaysia has to offer to tourists I cannot see this country not developing a large backpackers route soon. So, if you can make the time travel to Malaysia today before it is overrun (and for good reason). Interim to your travels, below I have shared many pictures of Peninsula Malaysia to give more of a sneak peek into this beautiful country.  Please click the pictures for descriptions, and option to comment. My next blog will share more about Borneo Malaysia.


Kuala Lumpur: the capital of Malaysia, a large and modern city, lots of shopping, great food, and near Batu Caves and Highlands


Ipoh: large city overlooked by tourists, but much to offer


Langkawi: beautiful island, duty free (cheapest drinks in Malaysia) where many locals and mainland Chinese vacation


Penang, fantastic island with more tourism than most parts of Malaysia, amazing street food in George Town, fun night life, and the countries smallest National Park



We were unable to make it everywhere, but everywhere we went we stayed longer than planned! As you can see, Malaysia is amazing!

Please follow my blog if you are interested in my next read about Borneo, Malaysia.